I am currently an at home mother and an active volunteer in the community.
Married to Jack Beusmans; Two sons — one is in seventh grade at the Andrews and the other is in fifth grade at the Columbus
OFFICE I AM SEEKING
Re-election to Medford School Committee
WHY I’M RUNNING
I believe that excellent schools not only teach children reading, writing and arithmetic but do so in such a way that they are engaged in their learning and enjoy their experience of school. I was finding that my own boys and many of their friends were often bored and unengaged for various reasons. I knew we could do better as a school system and decided that I should try to help improve our schools.
After two years on the School Committee, I do feel that I have made significant contributions to our schools. However, there are many things I would like to continue working on.
I am committed to helping our teachers incorporate differentiated instruction into their classes. Presenting the material in multiple ways can accommodate the different needs of students whether they are struggling or excelling.
I will continue to advocate for the professional development, mentoring and material resources our teachers need to be able to do this.
I want to ensure that our schools work to educate the whole child and continue to offer a full spectrum of subjects including art, music, and foreign languages even in times of economic stress. I want our students to be engaged in their learning and enjoy their school experience.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS/EXPERIENCE I WILL BRING TO THE OFFICE
My most important qualifications are a deep passion for education and a strong commitment to helping improve our schools. This arises from my own long years of schooling and my experience as a lab instructor and adjunct lecturer at the college level.
I graduated from a public high school in Chicago, attended the University of Chicago, and did graduate work at the University of Washington and Northeastern University in Boston.
I have a BA and an MS in biology. I have conducted research in biology and have published papers in scientific journals.
I was in charge of the biology teaching labs as the Laboratory Supervisor at Northeastern University and in addition taught various courses in biology for many years.
The experience of having taught at the college level gave me a feeling for the art of teaching and how different students approach the same material. As a teacher, I had to figure out ways to present the material that might help explain some of the otherwise confusing concepts that I taught — such as beginning genetics or protein formation.
Most of my work — both paid and volunteer — has involved education and community service. I worked as a biologist for the EPA in Chicago, edited the journal of a local genealogical society and worked as a coordinator for the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston.
As president of the Friends of the Medford Public Library, I have helped raise funds for our library and advocated for libraries at the state level. I was the vice president of the Medford Historical Society for five years until last May and continue to coordinate membership for the Society.
As a parent, I have been involved in the schools as a classroom and library volunteer, worked with the PTO and served on the Columbus School Improvement Council.
Learning and inquiry do not end after graduation. Especially in these times of rapid and drastic economic change, many of us need to continue to learn.
I continue to educate myself on all aspects of our schools and the larger issues facing public education both in Massachusetts and the nation.
I recently joined the board of Citizens for Public Schools where I will advocate for positive changes in education policy and increased funding for education.
THREE MAJOR ISSUES FACING THE CITY AND/OR SCHOOLS
1) Budget Every year the budget is cut as state and federal funding has decreased, while mandates and regulations from the state and the federal governments are increased. We are continually asked to do as much or more with fewer resources.
Many heartbreaking decisions have to be made concerning which budget items are funded. It is very frustrating to know that our elementary school Principals need more support but that we are not able to give them Assistant Principals or more front-office staff. It is equally frustrating to know that the computers in our schools are so outdated they are often unusable and not have the money to replace them.
As a whole, the School Committee has worked with the administration to come up with the best compromises possible to keep a high level of services in our schools. We have kept our class sizes small and our curriculum rich with art, music and foreign languages.
2) Replacing school technology
Stemming from our budget issues, the computers and other technology in our schools have been neglected. We are in desperate need of new computers, increased server capacity, working LCD projectors, Smart Boards and similar technological resources. We need a large initial investment to replace our computers and update our network infrastructure.
At this point, this needs to come from the city’s proposed capital improvement bond plan. Once purchased, we need to have a regular line item in our budget for maintenance of the new equipment and an overall renewal plan for upgrading it in the future.
3) Renovation and maintenance of our facilities.
Also as a result of decreased budgets, the maintenance of our facilities has also suffered. This is both due to lack of money for major renovations and insufficient maintenance staff for routine tasks. It has been pointed out that our “new” schools are a decade old and many little issues are cropping up. These need to be corrected and preventative maintenance reinstated so that they do not become major issues. The High School needs major repairs and renovations.
A number of areas have been dealt with in a piecemeal fashion, but this cannot continue indefinitely. In particular, the science labs need to be renovated, all of the building systems need to be updated, the windows need to be replaced, and the pool needs to be repaired and reopened. As our oldest building, the Curtis-Tufts school also needs major renovations.
I would like to see these needs included in the city’s capital plan as well. Then, proper preventative maintenance should budgeted for and carried out.
WHY YOU SHOULD VOTE FOR ME
My top priority is and has been to ensure that every student has an optimal educational experience. One of the subjects I am most adamant about is that the curriculum should be differentiated in every classroom — in other words, the curriculum should be accessible and pertinent to students of different abilities, interests, and learning styles. There is so much required of our teachers these days, that it is difficult for a teacher with little experience in this area to teach in this way.
I will continue to advocate for professional development and mentoring for our teachers, as well as the material and intellectual resources they need to do this effectively
I also will continue to be a champion for our school libraries and continue to push for bringing back full-time certified library teachers in every school.
Developing the habit of reading is critical to being an educated person and future responsible citizen. Additionally, children that read regularly have larger vocabularies and become better writers.
It is important to keep a steady flow of interesting books in our students’ hands so that they not only learn to read but also learn to love reading.
I am concerned about the focus on increasing test scores at the expense of other important skills. Employers in the 21st Century are looking for potential employees who are problem solvers and creative thinkers, and can work collaboratively as part of a team. We would be doing our students a disservice to neglect those aspects of their education in an effort to increase MCAS.
I am also very aware of the larger educational picture. Policies enacted at the state and federal levels have major effects on our curriculum and how we are able to spend our funding. I talk regularly with our state legislators about both funding for our schools and educational policies. My concerns led me to join the board of Citizens for Public Schools, a statewide organization that advocates for public education funding and policy.
I thank the citizens of Medford for electing me to office in 2009. I ask for your vote on Nov. 8 so that I can continue serving our community on the Medford School Committee.